I’m so stinking tired of asking God for this.
The overriding issue in our lives lately has been trying to sell this house. If we could only sell our house, then we could get a new one in Oklahoma. If we could only sell our house, then we could have a little security. If we could only sell our house, then we could finally fully move on with our lives.
So we pray and we whine and we complain and we worry. We go forward trying to make the best of the situation, but our focus these last couple months has never strayed too far away from that house. It has become a holy grail of sorts for us — a mythical item that will bring us happiness and completion.
I am so focused on a desired outcome that it’s difficult to enjoy anything else.
We do this at times, you and I. We become so obsessed with a future event or achievement. And with our eyes focused so far into the distance, we can miss the blessings or joys that lay right in front of us.
Our readings this week brought this home for me. Just look at the way Jesus taught his disciples to pray in Luke 11:
“Father, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
Give us each day the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation.”
The requests in this prayer are pretty simple: food, forgiveness, endurance against temptation. These are not things that you get once and are set. These are daily commodities that are consumed today and needed again. We crave a constant stream of these things, so Jesus teaches us to continually ask for these basics of life.
And why? My guess is that it’s to teach us to focus our eyes on what is near to us. Later in the chapter he goes on to describe how good God is. How he’s always going to work to give us good things, like any father would. He’s going to do what’s best for us regardless.
But the asking is important. He wants us to ask for these basic needs. Because God is a chaser. He knows the joy in the pursuit of what he loves. He wants us to be chasers, too.
Let me give you an example. As a huge sports fan, I follow my favorite teams with energy and passion. And in sports, the focus is always on winning the championship. I vividly remember the pain as the Texas Rangers came so close to winning the 2011 World Series only to see the Cardinals celebrate. I watched the team walk off the field in St. Louis that night and felt empty and unfulfilled.
Just as vivid in my brain is watching Vince Young celebrate in the Rose Bowl in January of 2006. The Longhorns had won the title for the first time in my lifetime. The euphoria of finally achieving the ultimate goal seemed so sweet. It felt like the happy ending we all seek.
But after both, a new season began a few months later. And I started a fresh with each team, again chasing the dream.
Because the real joy in sports is not really the end accomplishment. It’s in following of your team — the ups and downs of each week. The real joy is the simple enjoyment in watching each game. The journey is the thing. The joy is in the chase.
It’s a simple truth that I need to be reminded of lately. I’ve been so focused on selling our house in Texas that I have missed some of the joys of living where we are — the people we’ve met, this church that has welcomed us in. I need to remember that the chase is important. It’s where the joy is.
So today may you have the courage to take your eyes off your future holy grail. May you be able to see the blessings in this, the everyday, and realize that joy does not reside in the future. It’s your daily companion, ready to be enjoyed if we will only look around us.
May you enjoy the journey today.